Phone Skills For Flawless Sales and Support Conversations

phone skills
Daniel Weiss

Sales and support reps that possess the necessary soft skills still need tools to realize their full potential. Understanding what’s possible (plus learning the techniques) will lead to more won deals and 5-star reviews.

Here are the phone skills to master for sales and support.

Sales phone skills and the tech to help them thrive:

You’re a smooth talker. You could sell an iPhone to Larry Page. Parents love you. But all of your innate gifts could go to waste if your technology doesn’t help you showcase these talents.

Sales Persuasion Guide

Have Collaborative Sales Conversations

Two minds are almost always better than one. That being said, phone skills which enable supervisors and colleagues to “whisper” advice or instructions could result in more closed deals.

To take advantage of call whispering, two agents must be on the call, but only one agent’s line will be audible to the lead. If the speaking-agent needs information, advice, or encouragement, the “whispering” agent can discreetly help them out. This feature has two main use cases.

  1. 1. During onboarding, new hires can approach phone calls confidently. They’ll know that their supervisors are there to support them if needed.
  2. 2. Sales directors will use every tool available to help close big deals. If a call is high-priority, it makes sense to put two top-performing reps on the call. Even if only one voice is audible, having the support of three minds will ensure no opportunities are missed.

Playing the numbers game

Sales is a varied profession combining the research skills of a PhD candidate, the conversational acumen of a politician, and the bullish mentality of a monster truck that crushes more responsible vehicles.

With this last point in mind, some sales positions rely on speed and efficiency to meet targets. More calls mean more opportunities, resulting in more deals won.

Click-to-dial is a phone skill that eliminates the need to manually enter phone numbers. The technology is painfully simple to use: when a sales development representative finds a lead’s contact information, all they need to do is hover-over the number and click. At this point, if using a cloud-based phone, the app will open and the number will dial. This process saves ~30 seconds per call and adds up to significant time saved.

And for those who want to take efficiency into the stratosphere, a power-dialer is the just the thing to get you there.

Lists of leads — and corresponding phone numbers — are automatically generated or manually uploaded in a spreadsheet. From there, the power-dialer will begin dialing each number. When a call ends, the power dialer will automatically move to the next line.

Some power-dialers even have the ability to leave a pre-recorded message on numbers which go to voicemail. This technology enables sales teams to potentially dial thousands of numbers every day.

Admittedly, these efficiency-technologies are impersonal, and their use-case should be examined closely before being implemented. For SMBs with a limited staff and a targeted audience, personalized interactions and due diligence are still the best “phone skills” to possess.

Perfect recollection

Building relationships is essential to any successful sales operation. And as with any relationship, listening and remembering past conversations builds trust and respect.

The problem is, sales reps can have hundreds of conversations every month. Inevitably, those meaningful talks you had with Gary, Melissa, and Lee will all blur together into one chaotic spiraling pizza gif.

Luckily, your cloud-based phone system makes it easy for you to remember everything perfectly. Every call you make will be recorded in its entirety (unless you opt-out), and accessible online through a sharable link.

Furthermore, all team members — with permission — will be able to access the link as well. This proves to be an invaluable tool for follow-ups, lead nurturing, and new agent onboarding. Save the best conversations to teach the rookies how it’s done.

Always open for business

In a perfect world, you’re by your phone and ready to have a personalized, engaging conversation with every prospect when they call. In the real world, however, there will be missed connections. But this doesn’t mean you can’t still position yourself for success.

If done correctly, a helpful, personalized, and memorable voicemail can keep leads engaged until you’re able to call them back. A good message will prompt users to leave their name, contact information, and their purpose for calling. A great message will do all this and add a dash of originality.

Who knows, maybe you’re unable to get to the phone because you’re hot air balloon got stuck in a tree. You’re an engaging and magnetic sales rep — anything’s possible.

And for added expediency, some phone systems will send you an email whenever your line receives a voicemail message. This way, you’ll be able to respond faster when rapid responses matter most.

Tag and transfer for timeliness

Good sales reps have a sixth sense. No, not seeing dead people, but an intuition for when an opportunity is too good to let sit even a moment too long.

Perhaps you’re on the phone with a company’s tech director. They’re dissatisfied with their current product and ready to try something new, but they’re asking you all sorts of questions you can’t answer. In this situation, you could…

  1. A) Be honest and tell them you’ll get back to them ASAP with an answer
  2. B) Make up some quasi-facts and hope they’re technically sound
  3. C) Warm transfer the call to a member of your product team for a thorough answer

Answer A is moral, answer B is exciting, but answer C is correct — provided your phone system is versatile enough to handle it. The “warm” transfer means you’ll be able to speak with your colleague, privately, before handing the call off. Give them the background and direction they need to help you close the deal.

And in less urgent scenarios, always remember to tag calls with appropriate labels. These will help you organize and plan for any future contacts.

Support phone skills and the tech to help them thrive

All-star support agents are empathetic, resourceful, and incredibly knowledgeable about the product. However, when powerful tools are added to the mix, these same support agents become telepathic, omniscient, and two-years-younger. (Actual results may vary)

See the future, predict the problem

Agents can better assist when they’re able to accurately anticipate why a customer is calling. Luckily, savvy cloud-based phone systems are built with this in mind.

For one, companies can set up smart IVR routing. This self-selection menu will let customers direct themselves to a qualified agent to quickly assist them. By the time an agent’s phone rings, they can be confident why a customer has called and be ready with the resources to take action.

Also, the future of business tools depends on their ability to communicate with one another. Aircall and other “softphones” are constantly interacting with your other CRM and helpdesk tools, like Zendesk, Hubspot, and Salesforce. Whenever a customer tries to contact your brand for support, their information (as well as previous interactions) will be visible to your agents, all before saying “hello.”

Context is everything, and a powerful CRM integration leads to faster resolutions and a better customer experience.

Hear the full story

Your customers aren’t all Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists. Many times, the who, what, when, where, and whys need to be investigated on your end. Furthermore, most support calls come from a place of duress. It’s possible you may discover an error that they overlooked out of frustration.

In order to facilitate real-time troubleshooting on complex issues, your team can use a concurrent call feature. This lets agents dial-out to external numbers and conduct full conversations while the customer waits on the other line.

Pro tip: don’t leave your customers in the dark. Periodically check in with them and provide an update on your end.

Remember to tag for easy analytics

Just like the sales use-case, a simple manual action can have large implications for your team’s overall success. Once again, call tagging is front-and-center.

Labeling the subject matter of each conversation takes about two seconds of extra effort, but makes data analytics a breeze later on.

When looking at a call breakdown by tag, you’ll be able to see why your customers are reaching out. This can lead to more-appropriate staffing, as well as larger changes to the product or organizational structure of a company. 

Call Tagging

Phone Skills: Easy handoffs

Single-touch resolutions are a key indicator of a well-run support team, but when transfers need to take place, solid technical phone skills can make this transition quick and painless.

Sales teams aren’t the only ones to benefit from warm transfers — it’s always better to give your co-workers a “head’s up” before passing along an upset customer. Furthermore, features like call barging can fulfill the same role as a transfer but avoid the dreaded on-hold time in between.

In this scenario, a supervisor or colleague can listen to an ongoing call, and enter into the conversation when necessary. New ideas and expertise can be introduced without the customer waiting a single extra moment.

So go ahead, Beethoven, play that Sonata. With the right tools and phone skills, your company’s innate talents can grow and flourish right alongside recurring revenue streams.

The phone system for modern business